Daniel is the fourth of the major prophets. He was among those who were carried away to Babylon. Daniel’s name means “God is my judge.” He was an exceptional example of faith throughout his life (1:8; 6:10), and his faithfulness was rewarded with responsibility and authority, despite being an exile in the land of Babylon. He was brought to Babylon to serve in the king’s court (1:3-5, 19) and found himself promoted after interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (2:48). He was also appointed as a governor by Darius after the fall of the Chaldeans (6:2-3).
There are a few common approached to dividing the book of Daniel. The traditional approach is based upon content: chapters 1-6 are historical in nature, chapters 7-12 are prophetic in nature. Another approach looks at the language used. Daniel was written in both Aramaic and Hebrew. The introduction (1:1-2:4a) was written in Hebrew. The portion of text which focuses on God’s reign in the nations (2:4b-6:28) was written in Aramaic. And then the future of Judah (7:1-12:13) was written in Hebrew again. The linguistic approach would have been evident to the original audience, but due to translation, it is hidden from us.
The sovereignty of God is emphasized throughout the book. Daniel was blessed regardless which human nation was in power. Visions are used to demonstrate that God is in charge of the nations. The appearance of the Son of God in
the fiery furnace shows His protection of His people. Nebuchadnezzar’s time in the field as a beast was a reminder to him of God’s sovereignty. On the day Belshazzar misused the vessels from the house of God he also saw the handwriting on the wall, which pronounced his doom. In the days of Darius the prophet was thrown into a den of lions, but the Lord protected him. And finally, when Cyrus came to power in the region, he made a declaration (as foretold by the prophets) to send the Jewish people back to Judah.
In the book, 3 pagan kings gave glory to God: Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Darius the Mede, and Cyrus the Persian. Belshazzar, did not give glory to God and was destroyed.
Here is a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book of Daniel:
1. Introduction—Daniel and his friends distinguish themselves by faith
2. Nebuchadnezzar’s image—the dream of the 4 kingdoms (Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, Roman)
3. The fiery furnace—Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image and Daniel’s three friends
4. Nebuchadnezzar’s tree—a lesson on pride
5. Fall of Babylon—Belshazzar used God’s vessels and sees the handwriting on the wall
6. The lion’s den—Daniel in Darius’ kingdom and the conspiracy against him
7. Four beasts—another image of the 4 world powers and the coming Son of God
8. Persians & Greeks—details about the rise of Alexander the Great and the demise of Greece
9. The Seventy weeks—a messianic prophecy
10. Fall of Persia—conflicts between Egypt and Syria
11. Seleucids & Ptolemies—moving towards the Romans
12. The time of the end—the end of these images, the coming of the Son of God
Next week we continue with Hosea…